Dozens of endangered species are finally getting their five-year checkups. But some property-rights proponents want even more done.
In July, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service began working through its backlog of five-year reviews for
flora and fauna protected by the Endangered Species Act. The
mandatory reviews assess the health of a species, and can lead to a
change in its status or even its de-listing. Nationwide, the agency
will review 71 species; 31 of them are in California.
a lawsuit filed in March, led by the California State Grange, calls
for reviews of 166 additional species. The group’s attorney,
Rob Rivett, says his clients want those tardy reviews finished,
because protections for those species often affect their
Reviews have been on the back burner.
Instead, the agency has focused on "putting dollars on the ground"
for species recovery, says spokeswoman Alex Pitts of the
California-Nevada office. She says the new reviews will draw on
each agency office’s existing budget.
of the Center for Biological Diversity questions why groups that
have long opposed the Endangered Species Act are suddenly pushing
for reviews. He believes the lawsuit is part of an industry trend
of suing for status reviews, hoping for rule changes, such as those
that recently decreased protection for the marbled murrelet and
Pacific coho salmon. The Center, he says, will intervene in the
federal case, to ensure the reviews "won’t become some
Frankensteinian perversion of science."